How to Make Money While Living Abroad

Traveling, for most people, is a big deal. Whether it’s just a cruise for a week, or an extended vacation in South America there are not many people that don’t want to see at least some part of the world. And there is so much to see; if you are as curious as I am you will never run out of ideas of places to visit.

Have you ever been on a vacation, soaking up the beach in the Bahamas, enjoying the culture in Europe, or chowing down on exotic foods in Asia and thought: man, it’d be great if I lived here Maybe you don’t even know where to begin thinking about how to move overseas: where would you live, what about all of your stuff, all of your friends, how would you make money, how would you find a place to live (not to mention having a significant other or rugrats running around).

Luckily, with the progression of the internet, wanderlust has become that much easier to cure.

Recently, I decided I wanted to travel outside of Bangkok for a while- and my Visa was expiring- so I had to plan a trip. So I sat on my couch, and researched a few places in southeast Asia that would be fun to visit; I decided on Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Next, I stayed on my couch and looked up the cheapest time to fly; a Saturday flight there would only set me back $48. Done. Finally, I had to find a place to stay  while traveling. For that, I continued to sit on the couch and logged into There were several good options to stay near public transportation (a must when traveling abroad) for under $25 a night. I settled on a room in a two bedroom apartment for $16 a night.

Living Abroad Starts With the First Step

The most daunting thing for any big decision is that first step. And the first step for becoming an expat is simply deciding to do it. Do some research- I’m sure you already have a few places in mind– and make a plan

Easily the biggest worry about moving abroad is how you will make money. Really, if you already have a degree you are ahead of the game. Teaching English as a EFL (English as a Foreign Language) or ESL (English as a Second Language) instructor is one of the most common ways that expats make their living abroad, mainly because it is so easy. A bachelor’s degree in any field can fetch you you a living salary in any country you want to live: from South America, to Africa, to Asia.

Here in Thailand, for example, just walking into a public school with a degree of any sort, with no teaching experience, but being a native English speaker can get you at least 40,000 Baht per month, which is about $1200 USD. This might seem like only enough to get an apartment, but that’s where you’d be mistaken. Considering most Thais live off of significantly less (more like 20,000 Baht) you can live very comfortably, even in a city like Bangkok. My fixed monthly expenses, including TV and internet comes to about $400. Food is incredibly cheap, you can get a pretty nice meal (western food is about same price as at home) for 4 or 5 bucks. But I regularly eat meals that only cost 1 or 2 dollars.

Being the rebel without a cause that I am, I dropped out of college to travel abroad. So teaching wasn’t a viable option for me, although it’s still possible to get a job teaching in many countries, even in rural Thailand, without a degree.

Different Flavors of Digital Nomads

Here’s where the beauty of the internet rears its beautiful, majestic head again. Working remotely was something that was simply not only not the norm, but a pretty convoluted task 15 years ago. Nowadays, you can do anything online. Something that simply seemed like a hobby before can become your source of income when you become an expat.

For me, it was writing. I have always had a knack for it. I enjoyed English class almost as much as I enjoyed science classes. When others in class groaned about writing an essay my mind was already racing with ideas for subjects and creating possible outlines. However, if you would have asked me six months before I moved if I could make a living writing I would have probably said no. It just never occurred to me that I could do it.

After only a few hours of exploring the idea on sites like, (they are merging now), and I had found a few jobs that I felt confident I could excel at.

It’s not only writing that you can get into; the possibilities are endless for digital nomads. Maybe you enjoy working with Photoshop. You don’t have to be a wizard at it- just start by getting basic jobs and increase your knowledge as you go.

Being multilingual could be a huge asset as well, there are a cornucopia of companies that need a reliable and consistent translator for virtually any language that will allow you to work online.

There are plenty of jobs for coding/ programming and web developing as well. If you aren’t already with a company that has opportunities for you to live abroad this might be the most lucrative way to go. Even if you have just played around with C++ or web development- WordPress included- you can land a gig doing these. There are people all the time who don’t know the first things about either of these looking for simple jobs all the way to complete complex projects to be completed.

Maybe you are a boss at using social media; you can find a job with a company to increase their social media presence through digital marketing.

The key for me, when I first became an expat, was getting a reliable client that would be able to provide me with a continuous workload. That way I could avoid searching for jobs on a regular basis.

Hopefully these ideas get you thinking. Generally there are all levels of work available online, you only have to look. Keep in mind that you don’t have to work online you can also turn you vacation into a- wait for it… staycation. Getting a job at a physical location while living overseas is just as likely as becoming a full blown digital nomad. When you start to live abroad, you realize that travelers are always coming and going.

Here are a few more ideas that you can look into as well:

  • Video editing
  • Work in a hotel or hostel
  • Travel Blogging
  • Selling goods online (eCommerce)
  • Housesitting
  • Au Pair (nanny)
  • Bartending
  • Teach dance classes
  • Scuba diving instructor
  • Photography
  • Real Estate
  • Work on a cruise ship
  • Translation
  • Tech blogger
  • Product Reviews
  • Start your own blog

The only rule is, do what you love and do it safely. If you are working or living abroad you should think about using a VPN like LiquidVPN to safeguard your communications from prying eyes.


You can follow your favorite VPN service at @LiquidVPN

You can follow the author @FreelanceTony


feature image courtesy of Kenneth Lu via flickr


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